Tiny data center where a public swimming pool was heated

By Zoe KleinmanTechnology Editor

2 hours ago

Image source: [email protected]

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Mark Bjornsgaard says his scheme can save public pools thousands of pounds

Heat generated by a washing machine sized data center is used to heat a public swimming pool in Devon.

The computers in the white box are surrounded by oil to trap heat – enough to heat the pool to around 30C 60% of the time, saving Exmouth Leisure Center thousands of pounds.

The data center is made available to the municipal center free of charge.

The start-up Deep Green requires customers to use its computing power for artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Founder Mark Bjornsgaard said the company will also reimburse the leisure center’s electricity costs to run the “digital boiler” – and seven other English pools have joined the scheme.

The concept, developed over five years, is relatively simple: the hot oil is pumped into a heat exchanger to heat the water in the pool.

Image source: [email protected]

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Deep Green’s “digital boiler” is a computer surrounded by mineral oil

Sean Day, who runs the leisure centre, said he expected energy bills to rise by £100,000 this year.

“The partnership has really helped us cut costs astronomically over the last 12 months – our energy and gas prices have gone through the roof,” he said.

“It was great to look at different ways we can save money as an organization.”

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said it was good to see pools “embracing innovative solutions”.

Last summer, BBC News revealed that 65 swimming pools had closed since 2019, citing rising energy costs as a key reason.

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‘Huge problem’

dr Julian Allwood, Professor of Engineering and the Environment at Cambridge University, said: “If it’s a sensible idea and the leisure center saves money, then why not?” The addition of data centers used less energy overall than previously reported.

But large ones can require billions of gallons of water and millions of pounds to stay cool.

Some are even built underwater – or in caves or in very cold parts of the world.

And in Danish and Swedish cities, huge data centers supply thousands of households with electricity.

“Data centers have a huge problem with heat,” said Mr. Bjornsgaard.

“Much of the money it costs to run a data center is spent on removing the heat.

“And so we took a small data center to where the heat is useful and needed.”